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Cameroon can learn from China how to erase poverty

By Richard Kwang Kometa | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-09 09:08
Farm workers harvest organic vegetables in a greenhouse in Henan province last month. [Photo by Niu Shupei/For China Daily]

The Chinese socialist political system under President Xi Jinping incorporates strategies to enrich the Chinese people by enabling them to create wealth and take control of their own destinies before doing so at the national level.

The capital, Beijing, and provincial capitals such as Nanchang and Fuzhou are examples of cities that have embraced modernity while retaining their traditional values. Fujian province tops the chart in combining cultural heritage, modernity and a concern for the environment.

With the ambition to eradicate poverty by the end of 2020, and 16 million people still identified as living below the poverty line, President Xi hasn't taken it upon himself to do it alone.

Rather, the political system allows the population to organize itself into small units that articulate their development desires. Examples like the fishing village of Xiaqi and the Ningde center for the fight against poverty are all examples which speak to Cameroon in different ways.

Poverty is a thing of the past for inhabitants of these localities, thanks to their close collaboration with the government. The people work in communities and preserve their history and culture, while staying focused on national development.

Fujian is a coastal city that is at the root of the Belt and Road Initiative, which is based on the idea of a common community with a shared destiny for humanity, which China is promoting to enhance international cooperation.

A total of 44 African countries, including Cameroon, have signed on to the Silk Road initiative. Cameroon President Paul Biya was one of the African heads of state who attended the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing in September 2018. Such a high-level gathering marked the desire of both sides to tap the potential for cooperation.

President Xi announced in 2018: "China is ready to jointly promote the Belt and Road Initiative with international partners. We hope to create new drivers to power common development through this new platform of international cooperation, and we hope to turn it into a road of peace, prosperity, openness, green development and innovation and a road that brings together different civilizations." Such is the thrust of modern-day China in international cooperation.

Examples of such a partnership have been the Fujian Construction Engineering Group created in 1943, and the Contemporary Amperex Technology Co, which makes lithium batteries in Ningde. Both have since grown into international brands.

Decentralization allows provinces in China to negotiate commercial and other partnerships worldwide. Such an initiative not only helps to strengthen ties between China and other countries, but also creates jobs, generating wealth for Chinese and their foreign partners. It helps improve the living conditions of people on both sides.

The lithium battery company, which started marketing its products in 1999, was not only aiming for the biggest global market share by 2019, but also capable of providing jobs to 30,000 Chinese, helping thousands of families make a living.

The Chinese approach to preserving their values has been innovative and progressive, with the aim of harnessing all available resources to empower people while promoting traditions, including cuisine and tea culture.

Cameroon, which, like China, has a diverse culture, can borrow a leaf from China's political, economic and social models to emerge from poverty. Over the years, the shackles of colonial times have restrained Africans in terms of mindset and development strategies. An ideological shift is essential for any country that wants to shape its own destiny.

China has, over the years, demonstrated the determination to eliminate poverty by the end of this year. And why should Cameroon and other African countries not be able to do the same in the near future?

The author is deputy managing editor of the Cameroon Tribune. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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